Coastal and Tropical South

December, 2006
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Aloe Vera
Called "burn plant" because of its soothing properties, aloe vera belongs in every home. And once you have yours, let it grow and multiply, then split it up for gifts. By keeping the original clump in a small pot, it will produce more leaves and offset plants. Move it up to a large pot and that same aloe will get big before reproducing. Once there are ample plants, tip the pot and slide the rootball out, then gently pull or cut off extra plants along with some of their roots. Pot them up, wrap with a festive ribbon, and gift freely. A note about aloe care: This succulent plant has thick green leaves lightly mottled with cream. If low temperatures or extreme drought change that color to solid or pale green, take action immediately to alleviate the situation. Once aloe vera leaves collapse, it's hard to revive them.

Clever Gardening Technique

Espaliered Fruit
Short on space, but hungry for homegrown fruit? A brick wall, chain-link fence, or simple arrangement of posts and wire can expand the garden vertically. The idea behind espalier is that branches don't need to be in a traditional tree shape to be both beautiful and productive. Begin by planting, say, young pear trees at 8-foot intervals at the posts or supports. Instead of pruning to an open vase shape as you would a tree, select branches to train to the horizontal. Secure them for the first season or two, and prune annually in January to keep the arrangement neat.

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Special Report - Garden to Table

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